Ingram seeks advice on graduation rate
Date: 3/9/2011March 9, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD School Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram told the School Committee last week he would enlist the help of businesses, churches, school volunteers and institutions of higher learning in the city to help address the city's drop-out and graduation rates.
He noted the drop-out rate "is not a high school issue, not a ninth grade issue, it's a district issue."
He released the graduation and dropout rates for the city's high schools:
• Central: 75.7 percent graduation rate; 4.6 percent dropout rate;
• Commerce: 35.8 percent graduation rate; 15.5 percent dropout rate;
• Putnam Vocational and Technical: 69.7 percent graduation rate; 6 percent dropout rate;
• Renaissance: 81.1 percent graduation rate; 3.3 percent dropout rate;
• Springfield Academy for Excellence: 25.6 percent graduation rate; 35.1 percent dropout rate;
• Science and Technology: 39 percent graduation rate; 15.9 percent dropout rate.
Overall the graduation rate was 53 percent, compared to 54.5 percent in 2009. The state average is 82.1 percent.
The city's dropout rate averaged 10.5 percent in 2010 and 9.6 percent in 2009. The state average was 2.9 percent.
Hispanic students were identified as "the most challenged racial/ethnic group" with a graduation rate of 46.4 percent and a dropout rate of 12.4 percent.
The superintendent's report also included the fact that "ninth grade has the largest number of dropouts by grade level at 307; followed by 10th grade with 175."
Ingram said he would be assembling a dropout intervention team at each school that will work with at-risk students. He would also consider bringing in experts on retention to aid the city's efforts.
A key component in the effort is to improve communications with parents, he added. Ingram said he would enlist the help of School Committee member Norman Roldan in reaching out to the Hispanic community.
He said students must be given reasons to stay in school and suggested bringing back successful graduates of Springfield high schools to share their stories with students.
"Kids have to see the payoff for going to school," Ingram explained.
Ingram said there are two reasons students are dropping out: they are bored or they fall so far behind academically they believe they can't catch up. He said the answer is early intervention.
"I'm confident we can turn this around, but it will take time," he said adding, "The task before us is unbelievably daunting and it's not just Springfield, it's the entire nation."
In other action, the School Committee approved Ingram's plan to add any days lost to snow closings to the end of the school year. At this point all city schools will have their final day on June 21 with the exception of the Milton Bradley and Warner schools, which were closed one extra close day. Those schools' last day will be June 22. The Dryden School had two additional closings, so its last day will be June 23.
Ingram explained the state has postponed this spring's Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test two days, which should help school systems catch up with the instruction necessary for the test.